Three suspects are accused of using social media to out an undercover officer, potentially putting him and his family in danger.
Melissa Walthall was arrested and charged with felony retaliation after she allegedly posted a picture and caption about an undercover narcotics officer from the Mesquite Police Department on her Facebook page.
A federal affidavit said she was angry at the officer because of testimony he'd given in a drug case against her friend, George Pickens.
Pickens and his brother, Bobby Stedham, "began research on [name deleted], the investigator, and located a Facebook page containing a photograph of the investigator," the document states.
It said Walthall reposted the picture asking, "Anyone know this [expletive deleted]?" And then Pickens and Stedham made flyers with the officer's picture and were planning to display them "like garage sale signs."
"From a prosecutor's point of view this is a case you want to pursue because you have to protect a narcotics officer. There's no more dangerous role in the police department than an undercover narcotics officer and their identity must be secret," said Toby Shook.
Shook, a former prosecutor, said a defense attorney would likely argue.
"There's been no harm directly. There was no direct threat and also I think you'll probably see some argument objection about a person's violation of first amendment rights," he said.
The affidavit said the trio posting the officer's photo on a commercial social networking site posed a viable threat to that officer's safety.
"The prosecution is gonna say, 'Well, it goes back to this particular person's intent and what they were doing.' And that's why it's retaliation," Shook said. "This is just another example of our social media causing some type of conflict or controversy in the criminal justice system."
KDFW FOX 4
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